The Most Effective Way to Keep a Gratitude Journal

It feels like just yesterday we were celebrating Thanksgiving 2015, but somehow, once again, this holiday snuck up on us! As we get ready to indulge in turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, we also take time to pause and reflect on what we’re grateful for over the past year.

And while you might have heard that expressing gratitude can improve your happiness, you’re probably still finding it difficult to really adhere to a regular “gratitude practice.”  Now you’re probably thinking: What is a gratitude practice, anyway? While there are many ways to express gratitude on a daily basis, science shows that the results are in the details.

A 2010 study from the University of Southern California found that deeper gratitude leads to more contentment. This study randomly assigned participants into one of three groups. The first group was instructed to journal being thankful to someone (versus being thankful in general), the second group was instructed to write five sentences about what they were thankful for, and the third group was instructed to list five things they were thankful for.

Unsurprisingly, the second group that had to provide five details about the one person or thing they were thankful for reaped the most benefit in terms of increased happiness and contentment, versus the first and third groups. This Thanksgiving, when you’re reflecting on all of the things that you’re grateful for, try including five details to go along with each one. Better yet, don’t reserve this gratitude practice for one coveted day per year. Practice this daily and spread the love!

To help give you an example, we’ve drafted up five details about someone we’re grateful for: Puck! You might know Puck as the CYCLE Kids mascot, and from our monthly Puck’s Corner features! Here are five reasons we’re grateful for him:

1. Puck does not care who you are, he will always put his head on your lap (or between your knees!) if you’re having a bad day.

2. He will always let us know when it’s time to stop working and get outside!

3. If you ever take Puck for a walk, you will feel like the most popular person in the city. I mean, look at that face!

4. Puck does not discriminate. He’s never met a kid he didn’t love, and who didn’t love him back! He’s gotten love from many of our “CYCLE Kids.”

5. He doesn’t bark like a regular dog. In fact, he makes a “moo” sound when he’s excited, which is why his owner (and CYCLE Kids Founder) Julie calls him “Moo Moo Bear.” How cute is that?

Now we’re going to challenge YOU! Tell us what you’re grateful for with at least ONE (but hey, why not five?) reasons why in the comments below. We can’t wait to hear from you. And of course, have a very happy holiday!